The Stakes Are High

Letters to the Editor May 15, 2019

Following the passing of the Climate Emergency Resolution by the Petaluma City Council on May 6, Climate Action Petaluma and the council will help create a new group that is representative of Petaluma and comprised of stakeholders with climate change experience.

Climate change is not a future problem for frontline communities. It is a now problem. As temperatures continue to rise, people of color are among communities hit first and worst by climate change. Now is the time to start to recognize frontline communities are subjected to ecological injustice and to prepare, protect and sustain our communities during environmental crisis.

What are the frontline realities? Barriers to disaster preparedness, and poor quality immediate and long-term responses following climate disturbances. Economic marginalization, homelessness, lack of disaster preparedness support and the concentration of environmental hazards in low income communities of color make them vulnerable. Frontline communities are often faced with inadequate and discriminatory emergency shelter systems in times
of crisis.

While recognizing that frontline communities are vulnerable to climate change, the composition and narratives of the mainstream climate movement reflect the perspectives of middle/upper class, often leaving frontline communities out of the conversation.

Petaluma will have an opportunity to be an example for other cities in Sonoma County to mirror. Petaluma will get to choose who makes up this climate cabinet. Our community needs candidates who will be a voice for frontline communities, fight for environmental justice and represent the community it serves.

As climate chaos escalates, transitions away from fossil fuel are inevitable, but justice is not. Know that just as we hold our elected officials accountable, we will be watching who gets included in the city’s decision-making and policy-setting in its fight against climate change. After all, this is the survival of people and Mother Earth, and lives are at stake.


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